However, with a poll run by Confused.com revealing 39 per cent of drivers admit they have hit an animal while driving, it is feared the actual number of roadkill could be a lot higher than officially reported.
A fifth of drivers responded saying they have or would consider eating roadkill, with one in ten saying they would eat swan and more than one in seven (15 per cent) would eat squirrel..
The new figures, obtained by Freedom of Information request to Highways England, Transport Scotland and Wales, reveal some unlucky animals are more likely than others to be hit by a car. The graphic shows deer accounted for 1,117 deaths, almost a third of roadkill found, while badgers have the second highest death count with 915 (23 per cent) reported.
As a result of the findings, and to help drivers navigate the law, Confused.com has created a guide on the steps to take if you’ve hit an animal on the road.
Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, says: “Unfortunately, being a driver means you have to make difficult decisions when it comes to facing an animal in the road and doing what is safest for yourself and other road users. If swerving means putting yourself and other drivers at risk then this should be avoided.
“Some drivers might also be tempted to jump out of the car and investigate a dead animal on the road, but this can also be risky. Drivers should know which animals they are legally required to stop for, so to help them Confused.com has created a guide on what to do if you hit an animal while on the road.”
The law around animals on the roads can be a grey area for drivers. For example, it is illegal to hit an animal with intention and take it home for tea. But if you see roadkill which has already fallen victim to a car you may pick it up, providing it is safe to do so, the company explains.
Looking at the law in more detail, it seems some collisions with animals have to be reported to local authorities. And taking the law into account, coming up against an animal in the road can leave drivers with a moral dilemma. Nearly half (49 per cent) have dodged hitting an animal while driving with almost half (46 per cent) avoiding an accident by performing an emergency brake, while two fifths (40 per cent) swerved out of the way. However, to stay on the safe side of the law, just one in ten (11 per cent) drove on as they didn’t want to put other drivers (33 per cent), or themselves (22 per cent) at risk. But hitting an animal can also be dangerous, particularly larger animals that can cause damage to cars and risk those inside. In fact, hitting an animal has cost drivers an average of £255 in damage costs, the company states.
And it seems some drivers are more willing to risk their own safety, and that of other road users, for certain animals over others. Eight in 10 (80 per cent) say they would brake or swerve for a dog, but only half (47 per cent) would do the same for a bird.
To find out more about the poll's findings, and the tips for drivers, click HERE